California's Primary Election is coming up on June 7, and one important race on the ballot for San Luis Obispo County residents is Clerk-Recorder.
Incumbent Elaina Cano is running along with James Baugh and Stew Jenkins.
The clerk-recorder might be a non-partisan position often overlooked on the ballot. However, this is the person in charge of keeping your records safe and overseeing the integrity of local elections.
“I do this from my heart. I believe this community, this county deserves somebody who is honest, who is a hard worker, and who will uphold the integrity of the law in all aspects, not just of elections but to keep your documents safe and secure,” said incumbent Elaina Cano.
“Going to other countries and seeing how much people want to vote and even now seeing that this [has] so far been a low turnout election — we need to get people involved and the only way we do it is we bring it to you, we go out, we talk to you, we answer your questions. I can do that for you, I will work for you, I will come brief you on our progress. That is my job,” said candidate James Baugh.
“People are arguing votes are stolen on one side, other people on the other side are arguing that voters are being suppressed,” said candidate Stuart “Stew” Jenkins. “Because I worked as a deputy registrar of voters in the office in the 1970s, under some very good county clerks, they showed me how to bring everybody in from both sides of the political divide."
Cano was appointed to the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder position after former Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong resigned last year.
“From working for the cities of San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach as their city clerk, up through the assisting county clerk, the elections division manager in Santa Barbara County and then now, being appointed in October of 2021 by the Board of Supervisors,” Cano explained.
Baugh volunteered as a poll worker during the 2016 and 2020 elections and as a precinct inspector during the California governor recall election.
“I've been in leadership positions 34 years of my life since I was 21 years old; I led men in combat at 23 years old. I understand leadership. I led an effort out of Fort Liggett to keep it open,” Baugh added. “I understand what it takes in order to lead, and I think I can do the same thing down here out in the county.”
Jenkins is an election law lawyer who was also elected to the Port San Luis Harbor Commission.
“I’ve had to sue the county clerk a few times in order to help the process and make sure that it was done properly. I've helped candidates get themselves on the ballot. I've helped them with campaign finance,” Jenkins said.
All three candidates are looking to expand clerk services for northern San Luis Obispo County residents.
“This building that is right behind us [Atascadero county building] has been closed for almost three years now. It’s budgeted to be open,” Baugh said. “All North County residents should be able to come down here.”
Cano said she already requested funding for the Atascadero office.
“That would be something I would like to ideally look into more and work towards is actually moving our North County office closer into Paso Robles instead of Atascadero,” Cano said.
“To reopen the North County office, I want to open a South County office […] I want to open a North Coast office,” Jenkins added.
Cano is also looking to strengthen outreach efforts.
“After the election, it doesn’t stop there,” Cano said. “I need to hear from the people as far as what are their concerns, how can we implement it, how can we show you what more transparency looks like.”
Baugh wants to add a civic engagement program for local schools and future candidates.
“Host a seminar and bring in potential candidates and bring in the clerk’s office to them, and bring in past candidates, campaign managers and talk about what it takes to run,” Baugh explained.
Jenkins plans to create a non-partisan county citizens redistricting commission.
“I’m planning on being able to roll back the cost to local governments anywhere from 70 to 80% of what they are paying for their local elections,” Jenkins said.
In order to become the next county clerk-recorder, a candidate needs to win by more than 50% of the vote. If not, it moves forward to the November election.